Posts Tagged ‘marketing messages’

Blaming an Auto Responder for a Bad Email Speaks Volumes

President Truman said “The buck stops here.” I guess that does not apply when receiving a bad email.

Yesterday I wrote about how a poorly written email headline may send the wrong message as well as giving my brief analysis about the marketing message. I responded to this email and then received an answer from the person who allegedly sent the email.

“Hi, Leanne, Your first line cracked me up. I like the rapid reply, although this email was automatically generated, not a (insert person’s name) original sadly.”

Well that is a new one.  Blame an auto responder for bad email marketing.

Maybe AI (artificial intelligence) wrote the message and then applied this person’s name? 

My return email was “Then I would rethink my auto message responses. Thanks for the fodder for my blog today.”

Here is my quick response to the first email message I received yesterday.

Your subject line FYI is a 100% turn off unless you are advertising for dates.

Please remove this email from your database.

Regardless if the message was automatically generated, your name is on the message. I could care less how it was generated.  Your name, your role and your contact information is what shows not “auto-responder” or “AI Robot 010.”

So if this was automatically generated, who would I really speak to, you or the AI Robot?

Give me a break.  Blaming the auto responder is beyond sad and lazy and speaks to the lack of integrity within the organization and potentially within the person who allegedly sent it.

Taking responsibility for a bad email shows integrity and personal accountability.  Had this person accepted the responsibility, I might have entertained a telephone call with her or him.

As it stands the response shows this is not a company I want to know to want to trust.  Yes people buy first on emotion justified by logic.  The reverse is also true, people don’t buy on emotion and justified that no buy decision with logic.

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Are You Sales Prospecting in All the Wrong Places?

Do you remember the song “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places?” Many SMB owners and sales professionals may have this as their theme song because they are sales prospecting in all the wrong places. These three gaps appear quite frequently.

sales-prospecting#1 – No Ideal Customer Profile Gap

Part of the reason for this misdirected activity is the lack of an ideal customer.  This profile is the result of some intensive research that developed from the strategic plan.  I have found “plan” as a verb is a four letter dirty word within the SMB marketplace.

The inability to have an ideal customer creates a Captain Wing It behavior.  Actions are sprayed all over the place with a prayer that something sticks. This is reminiscent of the line “looking for love in too many places.”

#2 – Bad or Outdated Business Model Gap

Another reason is a bad or outdated business model.  With the marketplace continually changing, so must business models adapt to these changes.

#3 – Dismal Marketing Messages Gap

Then there is the dismal marketing messages within their sales prospecting. These crazy busy people focus on the how of the solutions (products or services) being delivered and not the what (the results of those solutions).

Additionally, these messages are not emotionally compelling and usually lack a call to action.

This past week I delivered a 90 minute seminar to executive coaches and consultants on some key aspects within the book To Sell Is Human by Dan Pink.  One of the activities was the one word sales equity. All participants were asked to share what they do in one word. This is not an easy activity.

  • When you think of yourself in your current business role what one word comes to mind?
  • When you want sales leads to think of you in just word word?

I encouraged those in attendance to return to their purpose and values statements to see if there was any one word.

Sales prospecting is a process that begins within the strategic plan.  This process or the steps within the process may change as the market evolves. Technology has prompted many of those changes such as email, texting to content marketing.  If you want to increase sales, then revisit your sales prospecting and see where you may have any of these gaps.

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The Failed Last Chance Marketing Messages for 2015

Has your email in box been overloaded with “last chance” marketing messages. For the last week, numerous SMB retail businesses along with a couple of service providers (executive coaching and consulting firms) continue to send “this is your last chance” or “take advantage of this last chance.”

marketing-messagesMy little brain goes Really?  How many last chances in life do you have?  One is okay, but any more than one is over kill and literally turns me off to this constant stream of “sales pitches.”

The essential problem is all of these “last chance”  traditional marketing messages focus on product and price. They are sales pitches first and foremost.

For today’s educated buyers be they homeowners looking for a realtor to executives seeking solutions to repetitive workplace culture and operations problems price is usually not what is going to make or break the sale for the top sales performers.

Last chance marketing messages make price the primary motivation for buying even though top sales performers never allow price to be the fallback position

When SMB firms resort to “last chance” marketing messages they ignore the value drivers of their customers. Years ago my father shared with me that all customers share three basic value drivers. There are others unique to each customer, but generally speaking the following are shared by all buyers:

  • Delivery
  • Price
  • Quality

Dad also said for the most part buyers place far greater importance on two of those value drivers (when all conditions are equal). Believe it or not price was usually not one of those two.  What my father shared is just plain common sense.

As buyers, are we willing to give up quality?  Do we want to have to return the item or buy a solution that does not solve the problem? I think not. Remember the old acronym for Ford cars: Fix or repair daily.

Also as buyers are we willing to give up delivery?  Usually buyers want the purchase now not later. Are you willing to wait a few days less along weeks or months?

So price becomes less of an issue when push comes to shove.  Of course educated buyers have done their research and are not willing to totally ignore price.

Marketing messages are all about attraction, getting noticed, establishing expertise.  They never should be sales pitches.

Marketing is not selling; but selling is marketing.

When price enters the marketing message, these other aspects are ignored and this can be a very big barrier to achieving the two-fold goal of marketing of positive attention and building a relationship.

If you have engaged in “last chance” marketing messages, be authentic and send out only one of these email to direct mail messages. Also consider working more on attracting attention and building relationships the first 11 months of the year instead of waiting until the last two (2) weeks of the calendar year.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Are Your Real Estate Marketing Messages Missing the Sales Target?

Selling our home has exposed me to a variety of Realtors. What I have learned is 90% or better of the real estate marketing messages we have received are missing the sales target.

direct-mail-postcardsProbably because these real estate marketing messages have worked in the past with less educated sellers, realtors continue to engage in the same marketing channels such as direct mail postcards, advertising banners on Internet real estate for sale websites. The messages are all pretty much the same, bland, boring and all about them.

For example, I have receive several direct mail postcards asking the same question about running out of time.  Had these real estate agents made any personal outreach they would have learned this card is not for us.  No we are not running out of time, but you have with these poor real estate marketing messages.

Then there are the mailings about guaranteed programs to sell our home.  Sure if we both agree to a price. Therein is the kicker. I already know many real estate agents will not agree to a price that requires them to:

  • Actively sell not market our home
  • Accept a selling price higher than the comparables

From my experience, many real estate agents want the quick sale to showcase their numbers.  This is called ego selling it is all about me the Realtor and not about you my customer.

Finally there are also the price real estate marketing messages.  “How about 3% commission?” stated one such direct mail piece.  Again knowing what we want for our home, knowing we do not have to move and knowing the ideal buyer for our home is probably 10% of all home buyers in this price range, I really could care less about your commission. Personally if you sell our home at the price we want, you deserve a 5% commission. Heck, if you sold our home above our asking price and we walk away with our bottom line, I would be willing to pay even a higher commission.   Price is should never be a fallback position for any salesperson.

Time are changing. Today’s homeowners are far more educated. Outdated marketing messages remind me of people attempting to sell buggy whips in the 21st Century. If you want to increase sales, make sure your real estate marketing messages are connecting with the value drivers of today’s marketplace and not yesterday’s.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Realtors, Time for a Reality Check, Direct Mail Postcards Increase Sales for the U.S. Post Office

Possibly direct mail postcards work for some realtors to increase sales. Yet from the quality of the marketing messages I have received from numerous local real estate agents and the absence of follow-up,  I truly do not know how postcard increase sales except of course for the U.S. Post Office.

direct-mail-postcardsMy question is “What is keeping these salespeople from physically knocking on doors of potential listings?” In the back of my mind, I can hear all the excuses for not knocking on doors.

Excuse #1 – Another Realtor’s Sign Is Still in the Yard

If another agency still has its for sale sign in the yard this may present a small sales barrier. The real estate agent has the name of the homeowner and with a little Internet searching probably can find someone who knows him or her. However if the sign has been removed, they can knock on the door unless there is a No Trespassing sign posted.  Very few residential homes have those signs.

Excuse #2 – I Don’t Have Time

Really you don’t have time to increase sales?  What are you doing all those other hours and minutes of the day? When this excuse pops up for anyone in sales I have them do a time study as to where they are spending their time. What is amazing is how much wasted time this assessment reveals.

Also embedded in this excuse is “I don’t have time to follow-up.”  Funny I have received well over 50 direct mail postcards and letters and not one Realtor as I hate to use the term salesperson has followed up with a phone call or actual visit.  What I have discovered is the marketing messages are still for the most part old school or work with less educated home sellers.

One would think that after 5 to 7 direct mail postcards somebody would take the initiative to follow-up and not with another direct mailing. 

Excuse #3 – Direct Mail Postcards Have Worked in the Past

Times are changing. Soon more and more educated sellers will replace the not so educated sellers.  What worked in the past will not work in the future. Remember the buggy whip if you doubt me.

There is a time and place for direct mail postcards and letters. Yet to increase sales possibly another one or two marketing and sales strategies must be incorporated for the maximum results.

Sitting in the office is always easier than actually going on the road.  Sure social media and Internet are great marketing tools.  However people buy from people.  This simple concept appears to be lost in selling especially among real estate agents.

If you want to increase sales in 2016, then recognize direct mail postcards are first and foremost making the U.S. Postal Service wealthier as well as those firms that sold you the direct mail pieces as well as inaccurate lists. Even if you have had success with this marketing approach, consider how much more real estate sales success you could have if you went beyond the mailbox?

Get out of your office; knock on some doors and do selling the old fashioned way – People to People – not postcard to mailbox.

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

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Content Marketing and Increasing Information Overload

Attracting attention is getting harder and harder especially if you are one of the 97.7% of US small businesses with under 20 employees.

content-marketingInformation overload is becoming an ever increasing threat and is potentially drowning your own content marketing messages.

Your target market or ideal customer profile is being bombarded with an overload of information via content marketing. This graphic from shows how much information is happening every minute of every day.

Much is written about having quality content, relevant content from blogs to You Tube videos.

Your content marketing goal has evolved beyond just attracting attention to gently or not so gently pushing the envelope where your target has that Ah-Ha moment and begins to think about your small business differently.

One competitive advantage is to use compelling graphics because the eyes are the gateway to attracting attention and making decisions about you, your firm and your solutions.

Another advantage is consistency of your message across all inbound and outbound marketing channels.

A third competitive advantage is enlarging your community by aligning with others and agreeing to share your content marketing efforts. This may included writing for industry online publications or writing a guest blog for another small business.

Of course those who entered the flow of content marketing years ago may still have somewhat of a competitive advantage. However, unless they have been diligent in staying ahead of the flow, their marketing messages may also be drowning in the sea of information overload.


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Are You Forward Thinking in Sales?

The marketplace has changed from local to global.  How you deliver your marketing messages have expanded beyond the local newspaper or media outlets to social media. What attracts the attention of your potential ideal customers has also changed or better yet evolved.

forward-thinkingAll of these changes or advancements depending upon your perspective and your reaction to these changes potentially determine if you are forward thinking when it comes to sales.

For example, if you are forward thinking in sales you are already engaged in:

  • Analyzing the impact of mobility on your website as well as blog
  • Investigating other applications to make your time even more productive
  • Looking forward to future implications of today’s technology and market trends.

Being forward thinking in sales suggests you invest the time to reflect, to take stock about what is happening to your market place, your industry as well as to your competitors.

Those who fail to invest the time, to stay abreast of what is happening in the world from local to global will fall behind their competitors and lose sales. Most importantly, those in sales management who ignore the input of their sales teams probably have the most to lose.


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What’s Wrong with Doubling Your Sales Activities?

Yesterday afternoon I read a post about how to double your sales activities.  The well known sales expert and author suggested by doubling your existing activities you will double results.

sales-activitiesIn a perfect world this might be true, but in reality there exists a potential “wrongness”  behind this type of action to increase sales.

When we engage in doubling our small business action or doubling down as some might say, we are presuming our current sales activities are the right ones and are delivering the desired, predetermined results. Until we have invested the time to analyze what is working for our small business, what is not working and what may work better with a little tweaking, doubling your sales activities can only make you even more tired and dissatisfied.

For example, if your small business doubles the number of marketing messages you send, possibly you are doubling the number of people turned off or pissed off by those marketing messages. Your lists might be old or just wrong.

Recently I have been receiving on a daily basis at least 10 emails from different realtors who want me to buy some software for securing listing of homes for sale. I have never been a realtor.

My sense is my name was added to this list because of this article I wrote years ago entitled 7 Tips to Real Estate Agents Success. So by sending me twice as many emails will double these realtors’ sales?  I think not.

Then you can double your sales team. Unless your sales team understands how to prospect effectively and efficiently along with can build sustainable relationships, you just may be draining your profits instead of increasing them. Possibly a better solution is to reach out and establish more strategic alliances where you can cross refer other small businesses.

To jump on the band wagon of doubling your sales activities with the hope to increase sales can turn into foolhardy sales efforts or a waste of time.  And doubling wasted time is the last action any small business or sales professional truly wants to multiply.

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Misguided Marketing Messages and Actions Continue Part 1

There appears no end of countless examples of misguided marketing messages. All I must do is open my email In Box and “bam, slam, thank you Maam” I am buried in poor to really bad prospecting efforts. And in some instances after I politely send a return email, I am ignored and receive another, usually worse, prospecting message.


So what makes for these misguided marketing messages to be classified under that broad stroke of the keyboard? Here is one example (I have removed the person’s name and company). From time to time I will share other misguided marketing messages as my goal is for you not to make these mistakes.


I didn’t want to call before dropping you a note. I know how busy you are. If one of the challenges you’re facing today is sales tax collections across the multiple states and locations in which you’re selling products or services, you’re not alone. More and more executives tell us that sales tax calculation, remittance and compliance is increasingly difficult, time-consuming and risky. In fact, many tell us they’re just not sure they’re doing it correctly.

The problem is that more than 15,000 taxing jurisdictions across the nation are in a constant state of flux. In one month alone last year, taxing authorities in 26 states made 257 changes to their sales tax rates and rules. All this has grown to make a tough job even harder.

That’s why I hoped we might speak. My company, XXXX, helps companies like yours easily and inexpensively manage these challenges through our cloud-based sales tax automation service. Companies of all sizes in every industry see immediate benefits using our solution, such as:

  • Automation — Our tax decision engine automatically calculates rates based on 100,000+ taxability rules and instantly applies them to your transactions. No more looking up rates or updating tax tables.
  • Maintenance – No tracking rates, rule changes and tax holidays. XXXX manages the updates, hosts them in the cloud and serves them to your solution in real time, wherever and whenever required.
  • Filing – XXXX  electronically completes and files all your state and local returns.
  • Scalability – Our solution scales to whatever your needs with no costly additional infrastructure, hardware or resources on your end.

Leanne, I hope I’ve earned just a brief phone call to show you how XXXX can help you quickly, easily and inexpensively become sales-tax compliant across-the-board — and more importantly, free up your staff and reduce your audit risk. Please just reply to this email with “Yes,” or call us at (phone number) We look forward to speaking with you and showing you how we drive sales success for hundreds of companies just like yours.



This message sent to: (my email address) You are receiving this because you have used, or are using information from (company’s url)  If you do not wish to receive further information please unsubscribe here.

First, I always look at the sender’s name without reading any of the email.  Then I look to see if this is somehow a list as evidenced by the last two sentences. Next I will scan the first paragraph to see if the sender knows anything about my business or is this just a general issue.  These three quick actions usually place the email in the delete folder.

If you wish to listen to more about misguided marketing,  this conversation between Jonathan Farrington and myself, Leanne Hoagland-Smith, may be of interest to you.

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When Was Sales Not Social Selling?

Social media has created a new aspect within small business called social selling. Even though some small business coaches, social media coaches and small business consultants who are promoting this new aspect presume that all sales are social, this presumption is almost negated when reading their articles, blogs or books.


Social media has created a lot of confusion for small business owners and sales professionals who wish to increase sales.  Also this confusion has created even more presumptions around what social means for marketing and selling.

Just today I received a message from LinkedIn promoting some free electricity.  Of course this person is an affiliate for this company and she presumes it is “Okay” to stuff my LinkedIn mailbox with this social selling to accomplish her goal to increase sales. She is being removed from my contact list as this is the second time she has engaged in “social selling.”

Social media is a marketing distribution channel. 

In marketing the purpose is to attract attention and begin to build positive relationships. Through content marketing using social media channels, a lot of attention,some negative, is happening.

Let us not forget people buy from people they know and trust.

Since human beings are social creatures,  the sales process (marketing and selling) has always been social.  When we examine the most effective types of commercials, many have pictures of human beings especially babies.

If sales was not social, why would people be in these marketing messages?

So do not confuse the latest marketing messages about social selling and lose your own direction, your own sales style. Remember social media is a marketing tool, a marketing distribution channel.

Sales has always been social and will continue to be social unless of course we turn to buying from robots and let some master computer oversee all of our behaviors.

P.S. If you have 30 minutes and want to make 2013 better than 2012, you may find this FREE webinar of interest – The 3 Dirty Words in Business.

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